There are a lot of things that sets us Filipinos apart from other countries. Nowhere is this more apparent than in parenting, where we have very distinct ways of imparting values to our children and keeping them physically healthy. We list some of the uniquely Filipino parenting practices here:
On respect for elders and relatives:
Pagmamano From a young age, as early as the toddler years, we teach our children to express humility and respect for older people with the gesture of pagmanano, or bringing the elderly’s hand to one's forehead.
Saying “po” and “opo” Our display of respect also encompasses our vocabulary. Not only do we teach our children to say “po” and “opo” when addressing elders, but also when speaking to people of authority such as teachers, church elders and policemen.
On values for life:
Utang na loob In the Philippines, we take gratitude seriously. Acts of generosity and kindness do not go forgotten as we are taught from a young age about the importance of utang ng loob, or lifetime indebtedness.
Hospitality Filipinos are notorious for their immense hospitality and are witness to this trait from their early years. We will willingly give up what remaining food we have or even our beds to make our visitors as comfortable as possible.
Removing our shoes/slippers Similar to our Japanese and Korean neighbors, we also espouse the habit of removing our footwear before entering someone’s house as a sign of respect.
On dining and family gatherings:
Family mealtime It is the golden rule in the home: the family should enjoy mealtimes together. Some of us may be used to hearing, “Huwag paghintayin ang pagkain” (Don’t make the food wait). When the food is served, everybody should be ready to partake of it as one unit.
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Asking kids to showcase their talent Filipinos are born entertainers, so much so that we raise our kids from a young age to know when to pull up the singer-dancer-actor card when we have a ready audience during family gatherings. Party organizers need not fret about the program, as kids know all too well what it's like being asked by their parents to do a routine for their relatives’ amusement. The motivation? A kiss from a doting tito or tita, or, if they're feeling generous, maybe even a gift.
Puwera usog “Usog” is associated with feelings of physical discomfort, supposedly brought about by the innocent greeting or admiration of a stranger. By some unexplained phenomenon, the greeting is said to cause the baby, child, or adult gassiness, colic, dizziness or vomiting. To counter this, Pinoys reply with a casual “Puwera usog” and by applying saliva on the child’s forehead or tummy.
To cure a child of "usog," an elderly woman in the family or a faith healer (manghihilot or albularyo) would apply her own saliva, coconut oil or chamomile oil (aceite de manzanilla) on the child’s abdomen. Some also place either a red marker (usually a piece of thread or the mark of a lipstick) on the child’s forehead to "absorb" the hex, or a beaded bracelet or a small pouch with an amulet pinned on the child's clothes as a protective accessory.
Tuwalya (towel)/diyaryo (newspaper) sa likod (back) With our humid climate, Pinoy parents know how sweaty their active children can get when playing. It can be worrisome because we think the sweat will dry up on the kids’ backs and be absorbed by the lungs, resulting in pneumonia.
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To combat this, we drape a hand towel or a piece of newspaper on children’s backs. Some Filipinos still do it in their adulthood — you might have seen a jeepney driver or two with the all-too-familiar white towel.
Pamamasko at aguinaldo If there’s a holiday tradition that is our kids' favorite, it’s Christmastime, when they could ask their ninongs and ninangs (godparents) for aguinaldo (Christmas money). It's an important tradition, not so much for the amount of money they receive, but for the rekindling of connections with their godparents.
Playing in the rain Bathing and playing in the rain is an experience that many Pinoy kids will remember with fondness. Having not a care in the world and just enjoying the gentle pelt of rain on their bodies will remain one of the most magical moments in their childhood.
Which ones among these did you grow up with, and which ones will you repeat as parents?